All-star Home for Tina, Jewel

Posted at 4:45 pm October 29, 2010 by Yadira Galindo

Billy at the Los Angeles Zoo

Only two hours north of the San Diego Zoo lies Griffith Park. Tucked into a sprawling metropolitan community, the park includes a railroad museum, miniature railroad, theater, an equestrian center, and much more. It is also home to one of the San Diego Zoo’s conservation partners, the Los Angeles Zoo.

I had the opportunity to explore the Los Angeles Zoo’s new six-acre Elephants of Asia habitat that will soon be home to Tina and Jewel. As I walked through the 3.8 acres of elephant yard space, I noticed the soft river sand throughout the enclosure. Think of it as walking along the beach: it takes a little extra effort to get around, which means great exercise for the girls and for Billy, the Los Angeles Zoo’s male Asian elephant. Then I noticed one of two eight-foot deep pools that bumps right up to the sand. The sun was shining, and all I could think of was how fun it will be to watch Tina and Jewel splashing around in their own private oasis on a warm California day.

Elephants of Asia habitat at the Los Angeles Zoo

Depending on whether Tina and Jewel are in “Cambodia,” “Thailand,” “India,” or “China,” they may have the opportunity to enjoy a waterfall or water spout instead. Regardless of what geographic area they meander through, they are bound to find enrichment aplenty, and Los Angeles Zoo guests will get up-close views of the girls while learning about conservation threats to this endangered species, as well as programs underway to help protect Asian elephants.

Tina and Jewel have been at the San Diego Zoo for 14 months. They recovered from a variety of ailments under the watchful eye of San Diego Zoo keepers, veterinarians, nutritionists, and many others. These same people took a look at Los Angeles Zoo’s plans and exhibit and decided that now was the best time to send the two elephants on to the next step of their lives. Tina and Jewel have had the opportunity to interact with a couple of the San Diego Zoo’s other female elephants, but they had not yet integrated into a herd. Because of the space available for the pair to move together to the Los Angeles Zoo’s state-of-the-art elephant habitat, and the experienced elephant keepers ready to care for them, a match was made.

Billy enjoys the new waterfall.

The move will also be an opportunity to reintroduce Billy to elephants with the hope that they will become a herd. I watched Billy lumber through the yard and interact with his keeper. He splashed water and hay over himself and explored his surroundings. It was easy to picture Tina and Jewel there, perhaps enjoying the cool cascade from the 20-foot-tall waterfall. If they need a little more TLC, such as foot care, the girls will go to the state-of-the-art elephant barn, where the floors are warm to the touch and the space comfortable during inclement weather.

When the Los Angeles Zoo designed the exhibit, they were really thinking of everything, including 28 cameras pointed in every direction of the exhibit and barns. It will be a good way to monitor Tina, Jewel, and Billy as they get to know one another and their new home. I can’t wait to see them in their new digs in Los Angeles when it’s completed in December.

Using the protected contact system of elephant management, Jewel and Tina will be under the watchful eye of experienced animal care staff at the Los Angeles Zoo, who are working closely with the San Diego Zoo team to ensure that the two elephants receive the same level of care they received while in San Diego. This collaboration is one example of how San Diego Zoo animal care experts work together with zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage rare and endangered species like elephants. The San Diego Zoo and the Los Angeles Zoo work together along with other conservation organizations and government agencies to breed and release endangered animals like the California condor and the mountain yellow-legged frog locally.

Yadira Galindo is a senior public relations representative for the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Name the Elephant Calf!

View video of the Los Angeles Zoo’s new elephant habitat.

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45 Responses to “All-star Home for Tina, Jewel”

  1. Lainie says:

    Sadness for a 2nd time. First, I just found out about my girl Su Lin, and her sister Zhen, now Tina and Jewel.=(

    I know it’s for the best. And I hope they will do very well in their new home.

  2. Dianna from Ohio says:

    The LA exhibit sounds wonderful… Was this the plan all along to move Tina and Jewel or did the opportunity just come about? Is it a space issue at SDZ or does this open up room for maybe more ellies to come to SDZ who need to be rescued? Good Luck to Tina and Jewel. I was able to see them when I came out for the Black/White Overnight. 🙂

    The San Diego Zoo responds: Placing Tina and Jewel is a step that has come about through an American Zoo and Aquarium Association recommendation made in September. The San Diego Zoo is delighted to be able to continue working with these two elephants at a nearby zoo while also having the opportunity to take in more elephants that can benefit from the medical care we can provide at the Zoo’s Elephant Care Center.

  3. Becky says:

    I am sorry to see them go but very …. very happy that they will have such a nice new home. Thank you for letting us know about this. Perhaps I will have time to get to the zoo and say good-by to the girls. And a big thank you to the zoo for saving two beautiful girls.

  4. M Katz says:

    This is one time that I disagree with the San Diego Zoo’s decision. Knowing what sensitive creatures elephants are, it breaks my heart to see this pair moved one more time just when they had found a caring place to live out the rest of their lives. Now they will have to adjust to new keepers, environment, and Billy. I wish Tina & Jewel all of the best and will miss checking in on them each time that I visit EO.

  5. Karen says:

    I am so happy for Tina and Jewel! I have been following their story from the time they were rescued and hope and pray they have a long, healthy, and HAPPY life at the L.A. Zoo! God bless all of you keepers that nursed them back to health and God bless all of the keepers who will be caring for them in their new home! I hope we will get to hear about them the day they leave San Diego and travel “home” and continue to hear about how they are doing once they arrive in their new “home” as time goes on.

  6. Portlandian says:

    I’m assuming there aren’t any breeding plans for Tina and Jewel? Also, there’s been a lot of campaigning to shut down the L.A. elephant exhibit, so is it really the best idea to send them there?

  7. clm1950 says:

    The LA news article talked about Jewel’s abscessed feet. How long were they abscessed and what is being done to care for her feet now and how will that care continue at the LA Zoo?

  8. Pat says:

    I don’t understand why two 40+ elepaphants would be put in a facility with a 25 year old bull. Can someone explain how this is a good match? I certainly don’t understand. L.A. zoo had originally said this new elephant facility would have a breeeding herd. I also read they are going to get 2 more elephants. We have seen that integrated a herd has not progressed very well at the San Diego zoo. So will Tina and Jewel be seperated from Billy and the other elephants permanently? It doesnt’ seem right to be putting this stress on these senior elephants.

  9. Debbie says:

    Kudos to the San Diego Zoo for the awesome job they have done bringing these special gals back to good health! The new LA Zoo facility sounds wonderful – what a great place for Tina & Jewel and so nice they have a familiar SD Zoo keeper going with them to smooth the transition. I’m sure resident LA Zoo elephant Billy will enjoy the company.

  10. San Diego Zoo says:

    #6, 7, and 8

    The Los Angeles Zoo has a spacious new elephant habitat, which will make a great home for Jewel and Tina. Although Jewel and Tina are fully recovered from the medical conditions (weight, teeth, feet etc.) that brought them to the San Diego Zoo, they are elderly elephants that may have additional medical problems in the future that can be addressed by the Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Zoo’s experienced animal care professionals in the future. And we hope these experienced animals will make great companions for the male elephant Billy.

  11. Max says:

    I am so happy to hear they are coming to LA! They will have a great new home. Good luck to Tina and Jewel in their new home.

  12. Sayuri says:

    It’s so great that I can continue to catch up with Tina and Jewel in their new home. I heard there were 2 girils coming to LA very soon, but didn’t know who. It was a really nice surprise. The new elephant exhibit is worlds apart from the old one, and I heard that Billy’s emotional health has improved already since he moved into the area that is open to him. I’m sure Tina and Jewel will enjoy their new home. I’m looking forward to continue seeing them. Now, I just hope that the exhibit will be done before the year is over without further delays.

  13. kathy, canada says:

    Sounds like a win-win situation to me, Tina and Jewel get a luxurious new home to retire too and Billy gets companionship. Thank you for all the care you have given these two lovely elephants, after everything they had been through – it’s wonderful to see them healthy enough to move into the next phase of their lives. They will have a comfortable home, nice soft sand to walk through, heated floors, a male to keep them company, great keepers and most importantly they will stay together!

    Well done SDZ!!

  14. Brenda says:

    The new elephant exhibit at the LA Zoo sounds nice. When I was there last October it was still under construction. Hopefully the concerns expressed by the other posters will prove unfounded and Tina & Jewel will have a happy life in Los Angeles.

  15. Tory says:

    It’s not luxury that matters to elephants. It’s space, mud, water, bananas, and the peace and quiet to take a nap. Since Tina and Jewel aren’t breeding age, how many more elephants are going to LA and from where?

  16. Denise says:

    Is the L.A. Zoo planning on breeding Billy with either Tina or Jewel? I understand that the L.A. Zoo plans to breed Billy with other females at some point. Aren’t the girls too old not healthy enough for that? If Billy is in musth (time of the year when bull elephants testosterone levels rise and they have nothing but mating on the mind), can’t that prove a dangerous situation for the girls who aren’t in shape/health or equipped to deal with the aggression that comes with a male bull in musth??

    This could be dangerous for Tina and Jewel. Wouldn’t it be best to let Tina and Jewel retire from exhibit entirely at this stage of their lives (since they were circus elephants their entire lives prior) to one of the elephant sanctuaries, like PAWS in California, or the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee?

  17. George Middlton says:

    Wouldn’t Paws be a better home for them at their age?

  18. Elyse Wright says:

    I think it’s wonderful that Tina and Jewel will remain together and will live in the luxury of a lovely new home in L.A. They will eventually provide Billy with companionship and will be able to assume the roles of aunties when (one hopes) Billy will be introduced to some younger breeding females. These lovely girls deserve the best after their challenging lives. I’m confident that LA and SD Zoo professionals will provide them with the best.

  19. Lainie says:

    The girls are closer to me where I live, so I will most definately take a visit, and see how they are. Although I’m partial to SDZ, I hope they do well in their new home with their new buddy.

  20. Pat says:

    From what I understand it’s not the SDZ’s decision where Tina and Jewel go, it’s up to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. So we shouldn’t be blaming the Zoo. I just wish the zoo would provide us with more information regarding Billy, and how Tina and Jewel will be housed with him. The integration of the SDZ/WAP herd doesn’t seem to have progressed much at the zoo. I’m just wondering why they think Tina and Jewel will be comfortable with a 25 year old male who surely will have mating on his mind.

  21. Calvin says:

    Its so nice to hear that Tina and Jewel are going to another nice home! It sounds like a really nice place for them to live and Im sure they will love it

  22. Los Angeles Zoo says:

    #20 Pat

    Tina and Jewel’s arrival will begin the process of reintroducing other elephants to Billy, the Zoo’s 25-year-old male elephant. Although both Tina and Jewel are post-reproductive, the zoo hopes to slowly introduce these two older girls to Billy to provide some elephant companions for him. Introducing elephants to each other is a lengthy process, and just the ability to see and communicate with other elephants in an enriching opportunity for them. The LA Zoo’s new exhibit is well equipped to manage these animals in separate areas where they can see each other without being in the same space.

  23. Pat says:

    L.A. Zoo thank you for the information. I just saw a picture of Billy in the new exhibit enjoying a waterfall, he’s a handsome elephant. I’m happy he’ll finally have some companionship. In the future will Billy be introduced to breeding females?

  24. Aunt Nancy says:

    It seems as though these two recovered long ago, and should be enjoying more time interacting w/the rest of the herd so I’m happy to hear Tina & Jewell will finally have a nice place to retire. Please keep us posted, if you can, of their move & how they’re doing once they settle in.

  25. Merry says:

    The zoos should do what the public is demanding and that is truly retiring T&J to PAWS sanctuary. 3.8 acres, no matter how many pools, is not space for elephants, especially when those acres are divided up to separate the groups of elephants. It’s just another prison for them.

  26. carol says:

    wasn’t the san diego zoo going to reintroduce playing the harmonica to T or J as a fund raiser at one point? these poor elephants deserve better than a few acres…and they’re not at the LA zoo

    Moderator’s note: We offered Tina a harmonica to play for her own enjoyment, not as a fund-raising activity. See post Elephant Odyssey: One Year.

  27. Marie says:

    The ellies look pretty happy to me. They are well treated and well take care of.

  28. Margaret says:

    Yadira, thanks for the update on Tina and Jewel’s future home. It sounds like a paradise for a captive elderly elephant. Plus, Billy will be happy to have their companionship. Hopefully they will integrate into a herd of three and live out the rest of their lives happily.

  29. Marie says:

    There is one baby ellie that is currently napping at his momma’s feet while she eats the food around him. He is so darn adorable. She’s nudging his head with her paw “get off my food,” but he isn’t budging. Hes a trired little fella. Too sweet.

  30. Jan Overman says:

    Just finished reading update in LA Times. Tina and Jewel are now at LA Zoo and it looks like they are getting a chance to explore the new exhibit together. I was there Sunday and saw Billy in the new exhibit by himself. He was spending most of his time going to the various gates and rattling them. He was so focused I thought he might be expecting keepers and treats. Now I’m guessing he smells Tina and Jewel and can’t wait to see them. He is such an amiable and easy going guy, originally a gift from the Indian government. I think this will be a good interim move until LA gets some females of breeding age.

    Thankyou SanDiego Zoo for sending your support team too. That will make for the best possible transition.

  31. cindy in KC says:

    That little Emanti is just so darn cute standing under his mama! 🙂

  32. Dianna from Ohio says:

    Wow… I didn’t know Tina and Jewel were moving so soon… I hope we get updates from time to time on how they are doing. Billy is a handsome companion what big tusks he has!!!) and I’m sure this is a good, final move for Tina and Jewel. Good Luck LA Zoo… 🙂

  33. Bobbie Wood says:

    Are there more baby elephants on the way? I just viewed two who look rather ’round’ 🙂 Gosh all of the elephants are so much fun to watch!

    Moderator’s note: Another baby is due in January!

  34. Don Stillwell says:

    Samba is due in January 2011 and last Friday, during the Elephant Rush while he was entertaining the crowd, Curtis Lehman announced that Umngani is expecting in October 2011. Umngani is already the Mom of Khosi, born 9-11-2006, and Ingadze, born 3-13-2009. I’m hoping for another baby girl. So far we only have 2 girls, Khosi and Kami, and 5 baby boys from proud Papa Mabu. Nearly 7 year old Moose was the first baby boy born, but his Mom, Dula, arrived at the Park expecting the stork.

  35. carol says:

    I’m still sad thinking that Tina and Jewel would have been so much happier on the 2,700 acres at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee than the 3.8 acres of elephant yard at the LA Zoo

  36. Marie says:

    OOOH two babies due next year. YAY! 🙂 Last night I caught Mabu giving one of his girlfriends some lovin’. At least that’s what I call it. He has his trunk laying on her near her face and his eyes were all soft. 😉 I think it was Swazi, but I cannot tell them apart. It was one of the bigger females.

  37. Donna says:

    With the notation on the Ele Cam page that there will be no Rush November 22 & 23 due to construction, shall we ele lovers take that to mean the construction is nearly finished and the females and Msholo will soon be able to meet?

    Moderator’s note: The construction should be complete by the end of this month.

  38. kittycat says:

    i will miss the girls but i am so happy for them and billy. la will provide a warm environment and the quailty care our senior girls need. i couldnt be happier for them.

  39. Don Stillwell says:

    Recommend watching an older blog “Elephant Calf Has A Name”. Tells about Emanti being given his name. Curtis narrates a video of the happening and it can be watched by clicking on “Watch the video” that is between the main blog and the first comment. It’s fun to watch and when Moya throws the browse all the way across her back to reveal the name Emanti, it’s really exciting.

    Moderator’s note: Here’s the direct link to the video.

  40. Don Stillwell says:

    Thanks for the direct link. I’ve just watched it two more times and it’s still exciting!

  41. cindy says:

    Wow what a bummer to hear about tina and jewel. I’m a proud member of the sdz and truly enjoy my drive to see all the healthy animals. I visited shortly after t and j had been brought in and got to see them back in the back area and progress with every visit. I can’t imagine that they will find the same care and happiness as they did in sdz at the laz. I wish them well.

  42. Mona says:

    I have a question that has probably already been answered but here it goes – Why do the elephants spray dirt or dust up to their backs? Does it have a cooling effect or do they use it to scratch their backs?

    Moderator’s note: Both! Plus, it can act as a sunscreen and bug repellent.

  43. Jo Ann in Texas says:

    A follow up question to #42 Mona: When the elephants do dust themselves, does it get in their eyes and cause corneal problems?

    Moderator’s note: I haven’t heard of that problem. They do have long eyelashes that help keep out debris and dirt.

  44. Diana S says:

    Thank you for all the info and updates on Tina and Jewel, SDZ and LAZ too. It sounds like they will be very happy in their new home. As long as they are together I’m sure they will love wherever they are. And Billy sounds like a great companion.

    Please, those of you who live in the LA area, keep us updated!!

  45. Sara says:

    Ok, have all 44 bloggers sent in a donation yet? Number 45 just wrote a check for 25.00, lets see if your money matches your mouth. Sara

    Moderator’s note: Thank you for your donation, Sara.